The Top Strength Exercises for Runners

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Monty is back with another video to teach you some excellent strength exercises for runners

If you are a running coach, a fitness enthusiast, or you are wanting to become a fitness trainer, going through these exercises will be time well spent. Within, Monty will talk about four exercises you can do as a runner to increase your strength:

  1. Banded Knee Drives
  2. Banded Calf Raise
  3. Knee Drops
  4. Front Lunge with Advanced Progression

 video and Transcript


Hi guys. My name is Monty. My Instagram handle is movewithmonty. Welcome to four strength exercises for runners. Today I'm going to cover four different exercises that you can do, particularly if you're new to running, if you've been into it for a while, whatever your level is at.

Particularly if you're recovering from some sort of knee injury, some sort of ankle injury or some sort of pain there, these exercises are great because they allow you to strengthen your body and the main joints associated with running at your pace.

Monty (00:31):
I'm going to take you through four different ones. We're going to cover the hip, we're going to cover the knee and we're going to cover the ankle. Three. If only I could count. Three main joints that are going to be involved in running. I'm going to talk a little bit about my thought processes behind that as well.

Exercise #1: Banded Knee Drives

Monty (00:46):
We're going to start with some banded knee drives. Now, if you've got a band, great. If you don't, that's totally fine as well. I'm going to show you the banded version first and then you should be able to make sense of the non-banded one.

Monty (00:59):
So banded knee drives. Now, even though I have called these banded knee drives, they're actually really targeting the muscles of your hip. Most notably the front of your hip, your obliques as well. So you're targeting really these muscles that crossover the hip, your hip flexor group, and also your obliques. So if you want to hold onto something, that's fine. If you want to hold on to the table, whatever it is just to help you with the balance.

The band is stuck underneath the ball of my floor foot, the foot that's on the floor. The other band is wrapped over the front of my knee. If you have hairy legs, this is going to suck, so make sure that you've got shorts that are long enough so that you don't get that hair pull. From here, my shoe laces are pulled up towards my knee, and then I'm going to lift up this way. You should feel this work the front of your hip. You may even feel it work your obliques, those muscles at the side front of your body. These are your banded knee drives.

Monty (01:53):
I'm doing them slowly and that's fine. If I just want to rep out and feel like I can get a big burn in my obliques and in the front of my hip, that's fine. You can also dial it up. So if you want to work a little bit on the speed at which those muscles contract, then you just simply do it a little bit faster.

Monty (02:10):
I'm going to do the same with this side. Just because that hip was getting a little bit tired because I put high resistance on. From here, you can do the same thing, drop down a little bit. Bang. As if you're trying to shatter a pane of glass that's just above your knee. You're going to drop the knee and then, bang.

Drive that knee all the way up through that glass. You can make these slow like we did it before. You can also make them fast. It's up to you. If you don't have a band, that's fine. You might just need to do more reps. So if you don't have a band, then you can start this way, and just bam! Lift that knee up high and hard. Imagine that you have a glass window just above your knee and you're trying to shatter it every time you drive that knee up.

Exercise #2: Banded Calf Raise

Monty (02:49):
The next exercise is a banded calf raise. Now I've said banded, that's more of a progression. I'll go through like a baseline calf raise if you haven't done these before. I'm going to do these facing this way, so just follow along. I'm going to lean in towards the wall, so the angle of my body is more leaning forward this way. So I'm driving up and forward, not just up and down. I want the projection. I want my body to project forward in towards the wall.

I can do this with two legs this way. What that would look like from the side view is here and I'm driving my head up and forward. Notice how I don't break at the hips. My body is stiff. That's really, really important for when you're running.

Particularly when you're running at high velocities, you don't want to be breaking at the hips every time that you take a step. You want to be able to maintain that stiffness through your torso, through your hips so that you can translate that ground reaction force up through your body and project yourself forward without losing any energy.

Monty (03:48):
So, I'm going to lean forward this way, two legs. That should be pretty simple. If that's too easy, switch it to one leg, take one leg off the floor. It's the same process. So from here, I'm just going to lift one leg and then I'm going to do this. And what you might find is that as soon as you go to that single leg, your hips dump backwards and then you end up doing something like this.

Yes, that's still work in your calf, but you're not actually working your calf through a deep range of motion. If you look at the range of motion here, my calf is only doing about half the rep, because it can't stretch back far enough. Look at the angle of my hip. It's pretty shallow right of my ankle.

Look at how shallow it is. It's almost at a 90 degree. As soon as I bring those hips forward, it goes into a deeper range of motion and I'm actually hitting that more stretched out position when I lean my body forward and don't break at the hips.

Monty (04:40):
So when you go to single leg, just make sure that your hips stay forward. They stay in front of your heels and that will mean that you get into that deeper range of motion of the ankle and it will be much, much harder. If you want to do this with a band...

Don't drop the band. Keep it in your hand... You can do the same thing. All you got to do is step that band right between your toes and the ball of your foot. Don't go behind the ball of your foot because as you come up, the band slips. I know that's obvious, but I see it a little bit too often for me to believe that it's obvious. So I can just step on that band and then repeat the same process. Really easy.

Monty (05:22):
If I want to up the resistance, I just grab further down the band, repeat the same process. Notice my bum isn't behind me. I want hips forward. So there your banded calf raises. You can do them two legs. You can do it with one leg. You can do them banded.

Exercise #3: Knee Drops

Monty (05:39):
The next one, knee drops. Now this can be aggressive for your knees. It's designed to be. So if your knees are currently sore, if they're currently inflamed, if you're just recovering from some sore knees after you've been for a run, I probably wouldn't do this one yet.

I'd wait until the swelling or the inflammation in your knees has calmed down a bit, then you can throw these in. Because these are a really nice exercise for you to strengthen up your knees and to work on rate of force production of your quadriceps and of the tendons on the front of your knee.

Monty (06:11):
So we'll start off double legged. All I want you to do is drive your knees forward as much as you can. The objective here is to get your knees as far over your toes as you can. Little tip: if you want to make your quads work harder, you have to relax the foot. The reason being, if I let my calves engage, to stop my knees going forward,

I lose the amount of work that I get on my quads. So when you're doing this, keep the feet really relaxed. If you really want to dial into the quad, almost pull your toes up towards your knees. And then instead of sitting your bum backwards, I want you to try and drive your hips forward, so notice how I'm moving this way. Kind of look like somebody who hasn't exercised for maybe 50 years when you do this, but it's actually a great way to strengthen up your knees. It just makes you look a little bit funny.

Monty (06:59):
Now, if that's too easy, then you can do a little bit of a drop. So this is where you do that movement a little bit faster and you're working on your quad's ability to be able to engage really, really quickly and give you that resistance to that external knee flexion moment really quick.

So from here, same process, knees, hips drop forward, bang, and then I'm just going to come back up. So this is relatively low level. There's not too much load going through my knees, but when you start to make this single leg, it's much, much harder, and I'm going to show you that now.

Monty (07:29):
So, I can do the same thing. I'm going to keep my foot relaxed, pull my toes up. That's going to make my quads work a little bit harder because I'm disengaging how much the calf muscle group is working. So from here, I'm going to drive my knees slowly, keep pulling my laces up to my knee and then back up.

And I'm trying to drive my hip forward. I want to imagine... I'll put this plant pot here. There you go... I want to try and knock this plant pot over with my knee. I'm not going to be able to do that if my bum sticks back. I want to drive my hip forward. There we go. That's probably the weirdest thing that I've done on camera, but I promise you there's much weirder stuff that goes on behind the camera. But you get the idea. My hips and knees are driving forward. I want to make my knee work really, really hard.

Monty (08:14):
If I want to make that harder, I do the same thing that I did on the last one. I just drop into that knee and there I'm working on my rate of force production on my knee extensor group. Bang. So I'm trying to drop into that hip. There are your knee drops.

Exercise #4: Front Lunge with Advanced Progression

Monty (08:31):
Now the last one. This is an advanced exercise. You can just do front lunges to begin with, but if you've already got proficient and good at front lunges, then maybe you can progress onto this instead. So just a front lunge would be me stepping this way and coming in. Yes, you can do it this way, when you drop straight down. But for this case, I want you to drive forward.

I want that knee to go over the toes. I want my hip to drive my knee over the toes, same as we did with those knee drops. Notice how much quad work I'm getting right here. So this is just the basic lunge.

Monty (09:02):
Now this is an adaptation on a lunge. It's a little bit weird, probably not even a lunge, but I didn't know what else to call it. So from here, I'm going to keep my body weight forward and I'm going to kick my bum and I'm going to try and get as much knee work as I can. Now notice how I'm not standing back up each time. I want to keep my weight forward and the reason is I want my body to be traveling in a forward direction, in that horizontal plane, as opposed to just vertical.

So when I'm here, I'm in this position, I want to keep my hip, everything driving forward, and then I'm going to kick my bum, trying to keep everything forward. That's really going to dial some work up in your quad, so be prepared for a burn. That can be difficult. If you're not ready for that, then hold onto something and then do a similar thing. And just by holding on, I can keep my body weight forward so I can still practice the technique. It's just not as hard on my quad.

Monty (10:00):
And then if I want to get better at it, I just rely a little bit less on that surface until I can do it on my own. If you then want to make it really, really hard, then you can jump into it. So from here, I'm going to go, bam, and notice how I buckled there, so my quad is probably not strong enough or warmed up enough to be able to do that properly.

So I'm going to jump in and kick and I'm going to drop my whole body weight through that knee. That is advanced. If your knees are prone to getting sore and you haven't done enough work on strengthening them, avoid that one for now because it is quite tough.

Monty (10:32):
So you got four exercises there. I'll turn that beeper off because it's annoying. There we go. So you've got four exercises. We did banded knee drives. It's the one where you're here, driving that knee up towards your chest. Great for the obliques.

Great for the hip flexors. You've then got banded calf raises. Really, really great for training soleus muscles, gastrocnemius muscles, and the plantar fascia on the bottom of your foot. This way, double leg, single leg, or with a band. We then had those knee drops where we did it with two legs and then with one leg.

And then we did that kind of weird exercise that I still haven't come up with a name for, but if you come up with a name for it, text it to me, because I need something to name it. So I've called them a split squat bum kick, but it's probably not good enough. If you guys want to come up with a name, DM me. My Instagram is movewithmonty. Until next time, have a good week. I'll see you soon.

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